Constituting Peace: The Impact of International Actors on Constitutional Design During and After Armed Conflict

In the past 25 years, over 60 countries have adopted or amended their constitution in conflict-related contexts. A majority of these constitutional changes were instigated as a part of a conflict resolution process, with active support from external actors. Given the significant influence that these actors can wield in unstable contexts, understanding their influence is crucial to understanding both peace and constitution-making outcomes. My project assesses the role that international involvement in constitution-making can play in preventing conflict recurrence, through its impact on the substance of the constitution.

Using cross-national statistical analyses with an original dataset, illustrative case examples, and a detailed case study of Nepal, I assess how different types of international support for constitutional reform encourage different substantive outcomes. First, I contend that international involvement in constitution-making can impact constitutional substance indirectly, through peace agreements, as well as directly when international actors attempt to influence constitution-writing processes and substance regardless of conflict termination type. Since questions about group autonomy, decentralization of power, and federalism often dominate conversations about civil war settlement and long term conflict outcomes, this project focuses specifically on how the constitution addresses these issues. Second, I argue that constitution-making after armed conflict can reduce the likelihood of conflict recurrence by setting expectations for long term, aspirational change and by institutionalizing conflict termination and elite bargains into supreme law.

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